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Gary Cassidy

Chapter 3: Improvisation and Characterisation

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Looking at how Narrative improvisation is used within rehearsal contexts to achieve a range of aims with a focus on the potential the use of improvisation holds for the purposes of characterisation.

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Sequence 1 ‘Introduction to the Narrative company’
This video is an introduction to the company of Anthony Neilson’s Royal Court show Narrative in 2013: Anthony Neilson; Zawe Ashton; Imogen Doel; Brian Doherty; Christine Entwisle; Barney Power; Olly Rix and Sophie Ross.
Sequence 10 B ‘Onomastic authorship’
This video provides a window into other aspects of Neilson’s authorial propensities via a snapshot of rehearsal room discussion concerning what to name the characters in the show.
Sequence 10 ‘Authorship of an audition: the Footmouse Dance’
This video shows how Neilson authors and develops his script in the moment during rehearsals. This process occurs as actors Barney Power and Zawe Ashton work on a scene where Power’s character is humiliated while attending an advert audition conducted by Ashton’s maliciously bored character.
Sequence 11 B ‘Affective memory in operation’
This video clip shows actor Zawe Ashton employing the Affective Memory rehearsal technique while running a scene with actor Olly Rix.
Sequence 11 ‘The Box Therapy improvisation’
This video features Neilson and actors Zawe Ashton and Christine Entwisle’s work on developing a newly-written scene in which Ashton’s character attends an unconventional counselling appointment. It contains excerpts of discussion, as well as a full-length improvisation where Ashton’s head is masked by a cardboard box.
Sequence 12 ‘The Random Objects improvisation’
This video is the first time the company run the improvisation concerning the arbitrary items found in the rehearsal space.
Sequence 13 ‘The actors discuss Box Therapy’
In this video actors Christine Entwisle and Zawe Ashton discuss the Box Therapy improvisation.
Sequence 14 ‘Box Therapy in performance’
In this video Anthony Neilson, Christine Entwisle and Zawe Ashton finalise the performance of the therapy session during the technical rehearsal in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court.
Sequence 15 ‘Perspectives on improvisation’
Anthony Neilson and Brian Doherty talk about Neilson’s use of improvisation in his rehearsal process in this video.
Sequence 16 ‘The Human Soundscape Improvisation’
In this video the whole company conduct an improvisation run by music and sound designer Nick Powell. During the improvisation the participants attempt to create a multi-layered vocal score by splicing together various random sounds articulated by individual company members.
Sequence 17 ‘Perspectives on Neilson’s directorial approach’
Anthony Neilson, Brian Doherty and Christine Entwisle discuss features of Neilson’s methodology as a director.
Sequence 18 B ‘What did you expect’
This video shows the similarities between the beginning and the end of Narrative.
Sequence 18 ‘Ask the Audience: the ending of the show’
This video contains rehearsal room footage of the company discussing the idea of having some kind of audience participation as the ending to Narrative. Then the video moves to the technical rehearsal in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court, where Neilson directs a different way of concluding the show.
Sequence 19 ‘Perspectives on process’
In this video Anthony Neilson, Imogen Doel and Sophie Ross discuss the interaction between the actor’s process and Neilson’s directorial/authorial approach.
Sequence 2 ‘Perspectives on the pro-filmic event’
In this video the assistant director of Narrative, Ned Bennett, and actors Brian Doherty, Zawe Ashton, Sophie Ross, Barney Power and Olly Rix, discuss the effects of being filmed while rehearsing the show. Then the video moves into the rehearsal room, where Rix is running a scene from the play.
Sequence 20 ‘Neilson’s Motivational Speech’
In this video the Narrative company have come to the end of the rehearsal period. Here Neilson discusses with the cast how the following week-long technical rehearsal will be conducted and attempts to allay any concerns they may have about the forthcoming opening and subsequent run of the show.
Sequence 21 ‘Changes for Press Night’
This video contains footage of the note session before Press Night where Neilson introduces an entirely new scene to be performed by actors Imogen Doel and Zawe Ashton that evening. The video then shows the only rehearsal of the scene before the performance.
Sequence 3 ‘A different perspective’
In this video actress Christine Entwisle talks about her experience of being filmed rehearsing her role in Narrative. The video then shows the impact Entwisle discusses, during the technical rehearsal in the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court.
Sequence 4 ‘Indirect authorship: synaesthesia’
Anthony Neilson considers how actors can influence the authorship of his work in this video. Then the video moves to the rehearsal room where the Narrative company throw various ideas around concerning how one of the characters being out of sync with reality can be theatrically rendered.
Sequence 5 ‘Revisiting the Random Objects Improvisation’
This is a video of the Narrative company’s second discussion and running of an improvisation using some chance items found in the rehearsal room.
Sequence 6 ‘Indirect authorship: malapropisms’
In this video the company and music and sound designer, Nick Powell, continue to explore the ways in which the character being out of sync with reality can be theatrically rendered. The footage then proceeds to show how this idea is audio-visually represented for the on-stage performance.
Sequence 7 ‘Everything feeds in’
In this video Anthony Neilson, assistant director Ned Bennett and the actors Imogen Doel, Sophie Ross, Barney Power and Christine Entwisle, reflect on the tangential properties of Neilson’s authorial process.
Sequence 8 ‘Direct authorship: Elastic-Man’
This video shows the authorial input of actor Olly Rix, as he works on a speech in the rehearsal room and then during the technical rehearsal at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court.
Sequence 9 ‘How the actor shapes the text’
Anthony Neilson and actors Olly Rix, Brian Doherty and Imogen Doel give their views on the connection between the actor and Neilson’s authorship in this video.